Out of the gates, Mulan II has a lot in its favor compared to many other direct-to-video Disney productions. Sequels never compare to the original movie, and although this movie was great, the first Mulan [review] movie will always be my favorite. The plot is fairly interesting in that it has no overt bad guy. What it does have is complications in the relationship between Mulan and (now General) Li Shang’s, and a journey across China with three princesses.
This film picks up one month after the end of the first movie, and there is trouble for China a-brewing. It seems that the Huns are gathering a huge army for another attack, and the emperor (Pat “Mr. Miyagi” Morita) thinks the only way China can stand against them is to unite with a neighboring kingdom. In addition, three young women (Lucy Liu, Lauren Tom and Sandra Oh) are supposed to marry three sons of the province’s ruler, thereby solidifying a strategic military alliance. But Mulan encourages the girls to disregard their father’s plans for arranged marriages and be loyal to their hearts instead. Despite its excellent voice cast, this sequel merely apes the success of live-action martial arts films.
Parents need to know that the violence in this animated movie isn’t bloody, but it’s virtually all unnecessary. The movie hammers home the message that following your heart is always the right choice. The cast from the original returns with an array of Asian-American talent and still does a fine job. All of this aside, Mulan emerges as a colorful and engaging romp through the sort of mythical history ride that Disney does so well in its theme park attractions.
There are a few by-the-numbers qualms I have with the production, and they deal with character design. Mulan herself is virtually a carbon copy of Pocahontas, and her horse could equally be a black version of Hercules’ dopey Pegasus. But while Mulan II certainly is entertaining, it’s not nearly as innovative as the majority of brand new Disney movies. Kids will enjoy this film definetely, but I’m not a kid, and chances are you aren’t either, so how does it stack up? I think Mulan 2 is a wonderful little direct-to-video sequel to an excellent feature film. I’m sorry for the folks who didn’t like it, but I can’t help but think they went into viewing it with the intention of not liking it to begin with or hoping to see the same kind of film as the original. If you fall into that category, you should definetely give it a shot.